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on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2002
US State Department's Report on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2001
Israeli pressure has revived Arafat
SHARON'S THEATRICS RESURRECT ARAFAT The argument that expulsion would strengthen Arafat is hardly confined to the peacenik left in Israel: Sharon's own infrastructure minister Yosef Paritzky argued only last week that exiling Arafat would play into his hands and cement his hold on Palestinian national affairs. The way to weaken Arafat, according to Paritzky, is to negotiate with him.
If Israel had been serious about expelling Yasser Arafat -- even more so, killing him -- it would not have broadcast its intention from the rooftops, argues Haaretz's Zeev Schiff (the dean of correspondents in Israel). Instead, the empty threat should be read as a symptom of the frustration of Israel's government at its inability, three years into the current intifada, to find a military solution to the threat of terrorism. And the price of issuing a threat that Israel can't afford to act on, says Schiff, has been to reverse the slide in Arafat's own political fortunes and put Israel in the hot seat.
(Haaretz, September 14, 2003)
The standoff over Israel's threats to move against Arafat obscure a deeper reality, argues TIME.com's Tony Karon: The Palestinian leader has outmaneuvered U.S. efforts to sideline him, with the collapse of Mahmoud Abbas's government making clear that, despite the refusal of Israel and the U.S. to deal with Arafat or his proxies, no negotiations are possible without his blessing. When the dust settles on the latest siege of Arafat's compound, the Bush administration may face the choice between pursuing its goal of sidelining Arafat and pursuing its "roadmap" peace plan.
The immediate impact of the latest siege has been to stall the formation of a new Palestinian government, writes Haaretz's Danny Rubinstein. Arafat has resumed full control even of functions he had previously ceded to Abbas, leaving his new prime minister-designate, Ahmed Qurei, fretting on the sidelines.
The Jerusalem Post led the charge last week preempting the Israeli cabinet decision with an editorial demanding the assassination of Yasser Arafat . But the same paper had only days earlier conducted a survey of leading Israeli security experts, most of whom warned against any hasty action against Arafat . Perhaps, however, the death-to-Arafat editorial was a rush of blood: The Jerusalem Post's director, Barbara Amiel, appeared to rebuke the editors in her Monday column in Britain's Telegraph, writing that killing Arafat would not help Israel's cause. (Registration required for the Jerusalem Post and the Telegraph.)
Palestinian labor minister Ghassan Khatib warns that efforts to sideline Yasser Arafat may be turning the clock back 15 years. Palestinians have begun debating whether they need a government at all if there is no prospect of statehood, and the Palestinian Authority is likely to collapse if Arafat is ousted, leaving Israel to resume the role of occupier in the Palestinian cities it handed over to the PA under Oslo. And with that, hopes for a two-state solution would fade.
TEN YEARS AFTER OSLOA Jerusalem Post package on Israeli views of the Oslo experiment provides a mostly gloomy assessment, although the original advocates and architects of the peace process maintain that the bloodletting of the past three years has only confirmed their belief that there is no alternative to the Oslo route.
In a week that marked the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks and a new round of crises in the Middle East, it's hardly surprising that the tenth anniversary of the Oslo Accords passed largely unnoticed by the U.S. media. And if the Democratic Party primary debates over the Middle East are any measure, it might be the case that much of the U.S. media is wary of opining too strongly on the issue. But among Israeli and Palestinian commentators, the passing of Oslo and the failure of the "roadmap" is raising the question of whether a two-state solution is still possible. The editors of Bitterlemons.org, Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher and Palestinian cabinet Minister Ghassan Khatib ponder the political changes on both sides of the past ten years.
(Bitterlemons.org, September 8, 2003)
For great background on the failure of the Oslo process, it's hard to beat the exchange in the New York Review of Books between Robert Malley/Hussein Agha and Benny Morris/Ehud Barak. Malley and Agha argue that Bill Clinton and Barak must share the blame with Arafat for the failure of the Camp David talks. Morris, in conversation with Barak, sets out the view that the talks showed that Arafat does not accept a Jewish State in the Middle East. Malley and Agha disagree, and warn that Barak's argument leaves Israel with no peace option for generations to come. The response from Morris and Barak is to
insist that the second intifada proves Arafat never had any intention of making peace.
Haaretz's Gideon Levy argues that Israel has sought only military responses to the second intifada, and that these are going nowhere. In less than two years, the Israeli military has five times reported that it has killed "the military head of Hamas in Hebron." Each time, the man's name changes, and each time it was promised that this had struck a blow against the organization's ability to mount terror attacks inside Israel. But the attacks have continued, unabated.
Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky warned in 1993 that an agreement that sanctioned corruption and authoritarianism in the PA as long as Yasser Arafat was willing to serve as Israel's gendarme was bound to fail. Without Palestinian democracy, he warned, the project would fail. The Jerusalem Post believes his analysis was prescient.
Palestinian-American activist Ali Abunimeh suggests that the failure of Oslo has left Israelis and Palestinians with no alternative but to resolve their differences in a single democracy .
Labor Party parliamentarian and former speaker Avram Burg warns that the breakdown of the peace process has put Israel on the fast track to internal collapse. The brutality of its occupation over the West Bank and Gaza, he warns, has eroded Israel's basic values, and the best and brightest of the children of the Jewish State are increasingly likely to emigrate.
U.S. STRUGGLES TO FIND HELP ON IRAQ The LA Times also reports that while they may not be read to hand it over to the UN, some influential Republicans want the reconstruction process taken out of the Pentagon's hands and handed over to the State Department.
Under pressure from domestic concern over the rising human and financial cost to America of the Iraq occupation, the Bush administration has approached the UN Security Council for help. But last weekend's discussions in Geneva between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the council highlighted the difficulties the U.S. will face in winning support. Washington's purpose is to achieve a UN resolution providing political cover for nations such as India and Turkey to send troops to serve under overall U.S. command, and also to persuade donors to send reconstruction aid. But the French are insisting that the crucial question is sovereignty Ð they want it handed over to the Iraqis as soon as possible, but until then they want an interim Iraqi authority assembled under the direction of the Security Council. In other words, until such time as the Iraqis are ready to govern themselves, the French want political authority in Baghdad held by the UN rather than by the Bush administration's viceroy, Paul Bremer. And Paris's basic objections to the U.S. proposals have been backed by Russia, China and Germany. The question then becomes, is the Bush administration ready to cede political control over the Iraqi transition in exchange for help with its military and economic burdens in Iraq.
(LA Times, September 14, 2003)
Such proposals also reflect the declining influence of the neo-conservatives in and around the Pentagon who designed the U.S. strategy in Iraq, says the Christian Science Monitor.
Bush administration hawks are not flinching, however. Vice President Dick Cheney insisted Sunday that there is no reason to "think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed." The realities of postwar Iraq have not changed Cheney's insistence that Saddam harbored weapons of mass destruction, that U.S. troops are welcomed as liberators and that they were sent in sufficient numbers to quell resistance (which, he also insists, was not underestimated). And he appeared to play to popular misperceptions by characterizing Iraq as the "geographic base" from which the 9/11 terror attacks emanated. The Vice President may be fighting an uphill battle: Latest polls show the approval rating of President Bush's handling of Iraq has plummeted by 25 points since Baghdad was captured in April.
IRAQ: NO WAY HOME One piece of good news for the coalition forces was last week's Arab League decision to allow the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to take Iraq's seat for one year. Arab diplomats characterized the decision as an attempt to engage with the realities of postwar Iraq, despite the reluctance of some members to confer legitimacy on a U.S.-appointed body. Having recognized the IGC as perhaps the only game in town, the Saudis -- who lobbied hard for the Arab League decision -- and other Arab governments are seeking expand their influence in Baghdad.
As Washington's political class begins to ask questions about the Bush administration's exit strategy in Iraq, the White House finds itself contemplating a postwar scenario in which, contra the expectations of U.S. planners, the toppling of Iraq has turned Iraq into a haven for anti-American terrorists. And that, argues Mark Danner, imperils reconstruction efforts. And violence against the U.S. forces in Iraq will be viewed on the Arab street through the same prism that sees Hamas as a legitimate response to Israeli occupation. The situation it has created in Iraq certainly hasn't helped Washington win allies for its war on al-Qaeda.
(New York Review of Books, September 25, 2003)
The critical challenge for the U.S. in Iraq is to build the legitimacy of the transition process. That presents a dilemma for Washington, warns the Center for Defense Information: Speeding the hand-over to Iraqis eases concerns over occupation, but building a democratic institutional base for a new government could take years.
Reuel Marc Gerecht warns that a rush to field a new Iraqi army could doom the country's political future. That's because the temptation will be to rely too heavily on the old army's mostly Sunni officer class, which would alienate the Shiites. U.S. forces should continue to shoulder the security burden, he argues, to create space for the coalition to get the political transition right.
AN UNSCOM VETERAN SUMS UP THE IRAQ WMD FIASCO
Despite subsequent efforts to recast the Iraq war as a campaign for democracy or an offensive against terrorism, the primary reason offered for invading was the ostensible threat to the West represented by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The failure to find any such weapons, says Frank Ronald Cleminson, a Canadian verification expert who served on UNSCOM, suggests it is reasonable to assume now that these weapons were destroyed by Iraq or by the inspectors during the 1990s. The inspection process, he argues, has valuable lessons for the future of non-proliferation.
(Arms Control Today, September, 2003)
TRADE TALKS COLLAPSE IN CANCUN The Guardian's Mark Tran argues that although the chances of success may have been slim, the price of failure at Cancun will be high, for both the industrialized and the developing world. He predicts a . That's because the temptation will be to rely too heavily on the old army's mostly Sunni officer class, which would alienate the Shiites. U.S. forces should continue to shoulder the security burden, he argues, to create space for the coalition to get the political transition right.
Negotiators from the industrialized nations and the developing world failed to resolve their differences over the former's agricultural subsidies and the latter's barriers to investment, sinking hopes of a new round of trade agreements in the immediate future. But the failure, says the Economist, was widely expected. One effect of the process has been to solidify the alignment of an increasingly assertive bloc of developing countries in the global institutions governing trade and finance.
(The Economist, September 15, 2003)
Iran's Bushehr reactor
NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY SQUEEZES IRAN
In contrast to its preemptive invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has thus far opted to deal with Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program largely via the diplomatic route. And last Friday's decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency to give Tehran 45 days to provide full disclosure on all of its nuclear programs was an important victory for Washington -- the U.S. position was backed not only by those who supported it on Iraq, but also by Russia (Iran's major nuclear technology supplier) and a number of members of the Non-Aligned Movement, on whose support Tehran had been counting. Although Iran's representatives walked out of the Vienna meeting where the vote was taken, the pressure to buckle to international demands may now be overwhelming.
Walking away from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA, as North Korea has done, may not be an option for Tehran: Both the reformers and the hard-liners struggling for power in the Islamic Republic share the goal, for economic reasons, of reintegrating Iran into the global economy. By outflanking Iran diplomatically at the IAEA, Washington may have left the Iranians little choice but to accept new standards of non-proliferation accountability, even if they regard those as unfair. Still, it's not yet clear whether Iran will accept full compliance with IAEA demands. And even a tighter inspection regime may yet produce a number of crises down the road.
Safa Haeri, Asia Times, September 16, 2003
The Guardian reports that Iran plans to stick to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Background on Iran's nuclear capability, from the Guardian.
Security Policy Working Group
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